Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Policy
St Giles Society Limited is committed to ensuring the safety of all employees, participants and their families, and the wider community, amidst a disaster and/or emergency situation. We recognise that effective business continuity and workforce planning, and the implementation of risk mitigation strategies and safeguarding measures proportionate to the complexity, size and scale of our operations are central to providing high quality services for participants and maintaining a safe working environment for all staff and visitors.
Principles underpinning our Framework
These principles underpin the mechanisms in place for preparing for, responding to and recovering from both foreseeable and unexpected adverse events;
- Proactive – whereby we anticipate and plan for service disruption, taking proactive and preventative measures to build a disaster-resilient service and workforce.
- Collaborative – whereby we create and sustain broad and sincere relationships with our workforce, the participants and families we serve, and our broader community to ensure we respond and communicate effectively in times of crisis.
- Integrated – ensuring that our organisational values, business continuity plans, and risk mitigation strategies are incorporated into our operations at every level, promoting the health and safety of the participants and families we serve, our workforce and the wider community.
- Coordinated – ensuring that our emergency response is synchronised, efficient and consistent, promoting the best possible outcomes for those impacted.
Whilst it is recognised that all parties play a crucial role in ensuring the Organisation operates in a financially viable manner, whilst upholding the safety and wellbeing of participants and their families, staff, and wider community, the Board and Executive Leadership maintain the overarching oversight of St Giles responsibilities in response to our disaster preparedness and emergency response capabilities.
St Giles commits to ensuring that an appropriate disaster preparedness and emergency response framework is in place to effectively respond to and manage an emergency event. These mechanisms include but are not limited to;
The Board is responsible for ensuring a planned documented approach is in place to respond to, manage and recover from emergency events, and that these plans and strategies are effectively implemented, abided by, and are formally reviewed on an annual basis.
The Executive Leadership is responsible for leading the immediate response to an emergency and to support them with these responsibilities, appropriate sub-committees and response teams are appointed, at the direction of the Chief Executive Officer or nominated delegate. This occurs within the immediate hour following the identification or notification of a disaster and/or emergency situation, with relevant business continuity, disaster recovery and workforce plans activated, and key priorities established.
The sub-committees consist of relevant senior leaders who are able to contribute and make informed decisions pertaining to our response and are responsible for responding to the changing nature of the emergency with primary focus on leading and maintaining the safety of our participants and families we serve and our workforce. The sub-committees and response teams have the ability to be scaled up and down to ensure our response remains proportionate to the scope and complexity of our operations.
Further to this, the Executive Leadership maintains the responsibility for ensuring that appropriate mechanisms are in place to test the disaster preparedness plans and that the risk mitigation strategies are regularly reviewed, with consultation actively sought from workforce and those we serve. This approach ensures that St Giles maintains a continuous improvement focus, identifying and applying relevant learnings from emergency events that occur.
Leaders are equipped and kept informed of all business continuity efforts and risk mitigation strategies implemented to maintain quality and safe service delivery.
All employees are provided with a variety information, and instructions relevant to their role and work area, and have a responsibility to understand and actively participate in relevant emergency response procedures, training, and evacuation practices. Where clarity is needed on specific areas of disaster preparedness or emergency response activities, employees are encouraged to seek advice and raise queries with their direct leaders to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others is maintained at all times.
Employees are also expected to contribute and uphold workplace health and safety principles by ensuring they maintain current knowledge of relevant service delivery and participant-specific risk assessments, contingency plans, alerts and information such as individual support and equipment needs of those they provide services and supports to.
St Giles sub-committees and response teams are equipped to quickly analyse situations, set strategy, determine options and make decision and evaluate their impact, whilst fulfilling the primary role to oversee and coordinate the Organisations response and mobile resources. This team has the capacity to respond to the changing nature of an emergency and are tasked with ensuring that service continuity at a participant level is maintained wherever possible.
Individual and participant focussed planning is carried out with all participants (including their families and support networks) proportionate to the level of services, and supports we provide ensuring that appropriate contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies are documented, and participant records are well maintained, allowing for responsive and timely intervention to occur in the event of an emergency.
St Giles will ensure that at a minimum, we have two emergency contacts recorded for each participant.
Participants are encouraged to contribute to the review of these plans on a regular basis, which will be facilitated by operational leaders and employees.
We recognise that effective business continuity planning has benefits further to disaster preparedness, and actively contributes to our continual improvement of service design and capabilities.
Business continuity and workforce planning occurs at the senior leadership level and where required, the service delivery of our key programs and services are adapted and redesigned to accommodate business continuity, with a focus on maintaining engagement levels and quality supports. These are regularly reviewed and adapted to address the identified level of risk present at the time.
St Giles maintains thorough employee records, ensuring that appropriate emergency contacts are known. Employees are required to update and maintain their personal details within our TechOne platform.
A record of secondary employment is also maintained, which supports our business continuity and workforce planning and complies with the NDIS Practice Standards. This greatly supports our ability to understand and respond to the challenges that not only affect St Giles but may apply to our sector as a whole.
Further to this, our ICT Team maintain disaster recovery capabilities to ensure our systems and data remain protected and accessible during times of uncertainty or disruption, and are documented.
St Giles incorporates and applies the following four key elements of effective emergency management to our strategic direction and operational activities;
Preventative risk mitigation strategies and the implementation of effective controls are pivotal to our ability to remain responsive, proactive, and flexible in response to a disaster or emergency situation.
This is achieved through the development and implementation of business continuity and emergency response plans at an Organisational level, and at a participant/family level.
In order for our workforce to remain prepared to respond to a disaster or emergency, our business continuity and emergency response plans are regularly reviewed and tested.
This consists of but is not limited to the review of individual participant support planning, succession planning within teams as part of our workforce planning activities, systems testing and emergency evacuation practices and staff training. These activities are embedded into our day to day operations and remain an important aspect of our preparedness capabilities.
In direct response to a disaster or emergency, our Emergency Response and Business Continuity Plans are activated under the direction of our Chief Executive Officer, and our communication strategy comes into effect.
Leaders are equipped and prepared to commence the timely and effective coordination of a developing emergency situation, and follow the directions issued by the appropriate sub-committees and response teams.
To ensure that St Giles fully understands, applies, and adheres to all necessary requirements and remains adaptive and responsive throughout a disaster or emergency situation, the sub-committees and response teams stay informed of all relevant public health and government advice, and use these directions to guide our response and implement timely action.
Following a major disaster or emergency, St Giles will undertake an operational review of its policies and procedures and implementation of its disaster and emergency and business continuity plans.
This will work involve the following activities:
- Debrief and consultation with those directly involved and/or impacted by the emergency.
- Collect and analyse data pertaining to the emergency.
- Identify the opportunities for continuous improvement and implement, where appropriate.
- Review strategic and governance implications and implement changes where necessary.
- Provide a detailed executive report to the Board within one month of the disaster and or emergency concluded.
The ability to cope with and appropriately manage an unexpected disruptive event (such as a disaster or emergency situation) is critical to the success of any organisation, and we recognise that a disaster resilient workforce can contribute to minimising the impacts associated with an emergency situation such as, but not limited to;
• Death or serious injury / illness of individuals
• The number of people affected
• Economic loss; and
• Damage to property, or important services and assets.
St Giles is focussed on developing a disaster resilient workforce, recognising that this is achieved when disaster preparedness and business continuity plans is integrated and embedded within the culture and knowledge of employees.
Version 1.0 3rd July 2023